“I am a New Immigrant to Canada with extensive experience and skills. But do I need Soft Skills for the Work Place?”

What kind of skills does a new immigrant need to be successful?

This is an interesting article from Brian Epstein, The Career Helper on “Soft Skills”. Soft Skills relate to a person’s ability to get along with others in the work place and go beyond your resume. New Canadian immigrants, especially from outside North America,  have to adapt to Canadian corporate culture which is often very different from where they originally came from.

Brian’s article has been re-printed below:

As a part of the topical issues about Canadian Immigrants finding work, and integrating into life and the environment of their adopted country, Canada, Nick Noorani has written and developed the “Nine Soft skills no immigrant should be without”.

Canadian employers and recruiters spend considerable time and money in hiring people for their companies and organizations. The interview process can be a long and drawn out. They want to get it “right”. Although employers realize the importance of having the expertise and technical skills of the people they hire, they also know that people in the company need to be able work well with all of team members – both new and existing employees.

What Employers are looking for in their Employees? Below is a list of important “Soft Skills” for Canadian Immigrants:

Communication Skills – Ability to Communicate effectively in written and spoken English. As Nick Noorani outlines, it is so important “for career success to be able to not only speak, but also write clearly and persuasively. And let’s not forget about listening!” Are your language skills up to the standards of Canada?

Local language Skills – To succeed in your work, you need to understand local phrases and business jargon. Recently a client sent me a resume. Although, he has excellent technical skills, he used jargon and word expressions that are not often – if at all – used in Canada. I suggest that you have a professional or someone with excellent English language skills or someone who works in Human Resources, to look at your resume to ensure that it uses words, language and has the proper grammar which is accepted in the Canadian workplace.

Presentation Skills – No matter what your career is or what your first job will be in Canada, at some point, you will be called upon to make a presentation. Do you have the ability and confidence to present and explain your thoughts, ideas and work completed to colleagues, management and / or clients in a way that is understood by all whom you make the presentation?

Small Talk – Photocopier Machines, Printers, Staff rooms/kitchens, cafeterias hallways and parking lots – these are some of the places that you will continuously talk with other people at your work. Are you up to date on how the Toronto Maple Leafs or Vancouver Canucks, Blue Jays, Raptors or Montral Canadiens are doing? What are the most recent issues that have made front page of the newspapers or the leading local news story? Yes, Canadians do like to talk about the weather – any comment or thought in a conversation that you may be able to share or respond when someone makes a comment to you will be appreciated.

Leadership and Initiative – Are you a person who is willing to share new ideas or ways of doing things that may benefit the organization which you will be working? Are you willing to take initiative at work and take on more responsibility? Are you willing to become involved in some committees or other volunteer opportunities within the company?

Conflict Resolutions and Negotiation – Conflicts, different approaches or opinions will occur; it is always expected to happen when you have people working together. Do you have the ability to share your ideas in a diplomatic and constructive way? Do you have practical ways to resolve differences when they occur?

Accepting constructive criticism – It is often difficult for anyone to accept criticism. Many people take constructive criticism of our work and performance as an attack on our personalities and our competence. Of course, there is a good way to deliver constructive criticism (that is another article for another time). Having said that, all people, including new immigrants must be open to the viewpoints of others. If anything else, we should listen and evaluate the merits of the criticism.

Flexibility – One of the criteria that employers are considering when they are hiring people is whether or not, these candidates and potential employees are flexible professionals. Although many immigrants come to Canada with specific education credentials, experiences, skills and abilities, employers are interested to know that the employees in their organization have positive attitudes and the willingness to take on other responsibilities in addition to their actual description.

Business Etiquette – You need to be flexible enough to work to change some habits and to adopt the acceptable business practices and culture of Canada and the community to which you have immigrated.

Brian Epstein
The Career Helper

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Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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